If you thought birth control pills are solely for women, better think again. According to reports, researchers are currently working to make these contraceptives a possible option for men in the near future.
In a recent study presented at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in Chicago, USA, experts found a drug called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) can effectively reduce hormones responsible for sperm production—without any serious side effects.
According to Dr. Stephanie Page, lead author of the study and endocrinologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, DMAU works by "regulating the body's hormone levels in order to trick it into thinking it's already producing enough reproductive hormones."
Apparently, the pill convinces your body that it already has enough testosterone, but in reality, it doesn't. And having a low amount testosterone suppresses the production of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormones (AKA reproductive hormones)—both of these are responsible for creating sperm.
No worries about liver damage, though (FYI: your liver plays an important role in regulating the amount of free testosterone in the body), as DMAU is designed to limit testosterone and sperm production, while keeping the organ safe.
For the study, three different doses of DMAU (100, 200, and 400 mg.) were distributed to 83 healthy men, ages 18 to 50 years old. After almost a month of testing, researchers found out that respondents who took the highest dose experienced a dramatic drop in testosterone and other reproductive hormones just by taking a pill daily in the span of 28 days. Consecutively, the decrease in hormones supressed sperm development.
As for side effects, none of them experienced any health-threatening symptom at all, except those who suffered minor ill effects such as acne. Blood tests also indicated that the pill didn't affect the liver.
"Our goal—and everyone's goal in this field—is to develop a method for men that has minimal side effects, and the holy grail would be to develop something that also has a health benefit for men," Dr. Page explained during the meeting. "The only options currently available for men are vasectomy, condoms, and coitus interruptus. Forty percent of pregnancies worldwide are unplanned, so there's clearly an unmet need for novel contraceptives, and men have very few options."
As of writing, Dr. Page and her team are planning to launch a three-month clinical study to further test the pill. If the results are good, DMAU will then be tested by couples as contraception.